Since opening, the parking lot of the North Saanich branch of Canadian Tire has been the venue for a rash of unusual auto crashes.
Over a dozen drivers have suffered similar incidents, in some cases, causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to their cars.
Local resident David Fisher, was visiting the store on Victoria Day to pick up some fertilizer, when he had his incident. He drove forwards into a parking bay and then hurried into the store, braving a downpour of rain. Shopping completed, he got back in his car and seeing the parking bays in his side window clear and the bay in front of him seemingly empty, thought he could drive forwards to get out. As he drove slowly forwards he heard and felt a double crunch. His front wheels had gone over an unseen concrete curb lining a drainage ditch. His car was now see-sawed over the curb, which had firmly dug into the underside of his car. The car needed towing and has, so far, cost $9,000 to repair.
“I was only driving slowly but I didn’t have the reflexes to hit the brakes. There’s no vegetation there, no bushes or trees, or a sign. If there had been, then you’d realize you couldn’t drive forward and what would happen if you did. There was no warning whatsoever, as far as I’m concerned.”
Unfortunately his experience hasn’t been unique. Towing companies and local bodyshops confirm many cars have suffered the same fate at the parking lot.
Since opening, extra barriers, painted brightly in wasp yellow, have been placed in front of the curbs, although Fisher points out because they are smaller, and similarly shaped to ramps, could possibly act as steps. Soil and young trees have also been bedded, suggesting the ditches, which dot the parking lot, could be turned into large flowerbeds.
“I talked to Canadian Tire twice. The first time I talked to the woman on Customer Services and she went ‘Oh yeah, you’re not the first, here’s a list of tow-trucks.’ She had them to hand, which suggested it was a fairly common occurrence, as far as I could see,” said Fisher.
The towing company told him they had pulled out a number of cars since the store opened and Fisher says a passing customer even pulled over to say she had experienced the same thing a few weeks before. When he got home he called Canadian Tire and says he was told by a manager they were fully aware of the problem but it was the responsibility of the property owners.
The company that built the parking lot confirmed it was built to code and passed all bylaws. Ryan Lesyshen, a mechanical engineer of Kerr Wood Leidal said he was not aware of the exact number of cars damaged but admitted, “My client has received complaints regarding cars driven over curbs and into the raingardens [flower beds].”
He said the owner of the building and parking lot is “hopeful that the addition of some taller plantings in the gardens [flower beds] will assist drivers with spatial awareness,” adding, “Spatial awareness is a driver’s responsibility.”
Fisher questions if it solely the driver’s fault if the same type of accident keeps happening. He has now been without his car for four weeks, had to pay a $300 deductable and is worried his clean driving record of 20 years is now at risk of increased insurance premiums.
As of Monday, Canadian Tire hadn’t replied to requests for comment on any of the issues raised and the North Saanich branch was unreachable by phone.